Pioche, Nevada

Quick early facts

1863 First silver deposits were discovered and samples were taken to Salt Lake City
1864 First expedition to Pioche
1867 Hiko became county seat
1869 Silver ore discovery attracted prospectors Ely and Raymond who ran unsuccessful silver mine in Hiko
1871 Pioche took the title from Hiko and became a county seat of one of the nation’s largest counties
1871 The Million-Dollar Courthouse deigned by Edward Danahue was built
1871 Devastating fire started in a restaurant on the Main Street. It spread and set off 300 lb of powder which caused earthquake
1872 The height of the boom for Pioche: the population grew to 6,000 people
1876 Boom ended with the decrease of mining
1905 Part of Lincoln County was taken to establish the new Clark County. Since then Pioche continued to rely upon occasional mining
1907 The smelter slag and mill tailings at Bullionville were found to be rich in silver and were excavated and carried by railroad to Salt Lake City
1950 The last mines and mills closed down and Pioche receded into semi-dormancy

Ely Record title changes

1870-1872 The Ely Record
1872-1876  Pioche Daily Record
1876-1876  The Pioche Tri_weekly Record
1877-1900  The Pioche Weekly Record
1900-1905 Lincoln County Record
1906-1908 The Pioche Weekly Record
1908-1925  The Pioche Record

Business district (1870s)

Turner House (1900s)

Pioche school (1900s)

Main Street (1905)

Street scene (1906)

Assay office (1907)

Neighborhood street (1920s)

Main Street (1920s)

Grammar school (1921)

History of the newspaper Ely Record

In 1863, Paiutes disclosed to a Mormon missionary the location of silver in return for food and clothing in the vicinity of what later became Pioche, Nevada. Located in the Ely Mining District, the town was developed by San Francisco financier Francois Louis Alfred Pioche in 1868, who bought several mining claims and erected a smelter. In September of 1871, H.R. Pitchford started printing the city’s first newspaper, the Ely Record, from a tent. The most prosperous mining camp in the new Lincoln County, Pioche became the county seat in 1871. Within two years, the paper expanded from a weekly, to a triweekly, and finally, to the Pioche Daily Record, although by 1877 after a year of recession, it had been reduced to a weekly (the Pioche Weekly Record). When a new owner took over in 1900, he announced “Unlike most papers [the Lincoln County Record (as it was called from 1900 to 1905)] does not start out with the intention of running first in the interest of the public, but will be run in the interest of the Proprietor and what he can make out of it.” A prolonged recession from 1892 through 1904 saw most of the area’s mines close, and Pioche was virtually abandoned. In 1907, the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad completed a trunk line to Pioche from its freight terminus in Caliente, providing a much needed boost to local mining operations. Pioche proved remarkably resilient, surviving flash floods, fires, and the Great Depression; it became a major lead-zinc producer until those operations closed down by 1958, only to resume production again in the late 1960s. As the town and county’s primary newspaper, the Record, although it changed hands, political affiliations, and titles many times, has published continuously, except for a four-month suspension 1900. It was known as the Pioche Weekly Record in 1906-1908 and the Pioche Record in 1908-25. E. L. Nores, who purchased the paper in 1920, ran the Record for almost 40 years, retiring in 1958.

When the Record‘s main competitor, the Las Vegas Age began publication in 1905 with a larger circulation, the county commissioners decided to award it all county printing and job work. The editor of the Record not surprisingly, was enraged and commenced a series of personal attacks on the Age and the residents of Las Vegas, likening the Age to a mushroom fungi of uncertain life, possessing a readership of “floaters, the shiftless and reckless class.” The Recordpounced on and mocked every printing error in the Age until the county commissioners reconsidered and rescinded their order. However, the Las Vegas Age ultimately recovered the county printing contract, and to add further insult to injury the county transferred it funds to the First State Bank of Las Vegas, Pioche no longer having a bank. The sectionalism dividing Lincoln County, fueled by Las Vegas’ growing political and business clout, made a division inevitable. When Pioche had recovered sufficiently to support its own bank in 1906, the deposit of county funds and the office of County Treasurer became the focal point for the debate. The Record maintained its hostility toward Las Vegas, seeking to keep the county’s government and treasury in Pioche. And when the state legislature finally passed the bill creating Clark County in July 1909 (most voters and politicians supported county division for simple logistical and fiscal reasons), the Recordkept up its volleys, promoting Searchlight as the new seat of Clark County over its old nemesis Las Vegas.

With the county split a fait accompli, Lincoln County and its paper looked to its own interests again. With the resurgence of Pioche and the emergence of Caliente as an important rail terminus on the Salt Lake Line, the Record settled into its long life as the county newspaper, which continues to this day.

Photo courtesy:
– University of Nevada, Reno Digital Collectionswww.library.unr.edu/DigiColl
– University of Nevada, Las Vegas Digital Collectionswww.digital.library.unlv.edu


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